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Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2012;127:109-32. doi: 10.1007/10_2011_99.

Metabolic flux analysis in systems biology of mammalian cells.

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Biochemical Engineering Institute, Saarland University, Campus A 1.5, 66123, Saarbr├╝cken, Germany.


Reaction rates or metabolic fluxes reflect the integrated phenotype of genome, transcriptome and proteome interactions, including regulation at all levels of the cellular hierarchy. Different methods have been developed in the past to analyse intracellular fluxes. However, compartmentation of mammalian cells, varying utilisation of multiple substrates, reversibility of metabolite uptake and production, unbalanced growth behaviour and adaptation of cells to changing environment during cultivation are just some reasons that make metabolic flux analysis (MFA) in mammalian cell culture more challenging compared to microorganisms. In this article MFA using the metabolite balancing methodology and the advantages and disadvantages of (13)C MFA in mammalian cell systems are reviewed. Application examples of MFA in the optimisation of cell culture processes for the production of biopharmaceuticals are presented with a focus on the metabolism of the main industrial workhorse. Another area in which mammalian cell culture plays a key role is in medical and toxicological research. It is shown that MFA can be used to understand pathophysiological mechanisms and can assist in understanding effects of drugs or other compounds on cellular metabolism.

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